Corriere Canadese

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03deportazioneDeportation, treat everybody equally

by The Honourable Joe Volpe, Publisher

TORONTO - We should have zero tolerance for convicted criminals, criminal organizations and their associates. That is a view that I share. It is the one that a senior MP and bureaucrats expressed when I sought their advice on a “clemency” issue that had been presented to me on behalf of a constituent.

Their attitude was “black and white”. No room for grey areas. I was new.

The constituent (I will call him L.C.) was a thirty-something, married to an [Anglo-] Canadian with whom he had fathered two Canadian-born children. He had come to Canada as a child, at the age of three. Canada was the only home he knew. English was his only language of communication.

Educated and raised here, he was blissfully unaware of his citizenship status, until he was arrested and convicted for possession of Marijuana and with intent to deal in a prohibited substance. He served time for his crime.

The Law required it; still does, even if “legitimate” dispensaries are sprouting like weeds (no pun intended) in our city and elsewhere in the country.

But sometimes the Law seems differently applied. I thought of him last week, when the Michele Torre “issue”– a Permanent Resident of Canada for the last 50 years, now facing deportation - surfaced “out of the blue”.

Kelly Leitch, candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, would appear to exemplify this “discriminating application” of the Law. She wants immigrants to prove their loyalty to Canada. It’s to safeguard Canadian values, she argues. And to protect Canada from those who would erode them.

Like two candidates in the Toronto Mayoralty race in 2010, I thought. One was a former provincial cabinet Minister and cocaine addict (“I use Party Drugs”, he confessed). The other, and winner, was also a drug user who confessed to a dependence on white powder when he was in a “drunken stupor”. That explains at least one Canadian value.

Neither of them were convicted of possession of a restricted product. Who was going to charge a Cabinet Minister or a Mayor? It could be argued that their consumption habits, satisfied as they were by suppliers with connections to international criminal organizations, might land them in the same boat as Mr. Torre.

The Corriere Canadese will not make that argument. But, they didn’t have foreign sounding names. And, they were born here, so to where would Canada deport them? There’s a lesson for those like Mr. Torre, who, for whatever reason, did not take out citizenship when he was first eligible at age 19: become a citizen and you don’t have to pay twice.

Nonetheless, it seems a little odd that known criminal organizations and their associates (“Biker” gangs, for example) are not rounded up and jailed, or deported. It is not as if they are hiding or concealing what they do to generate income. They can ”eat away” at Canadian values in complete tranquillity.

It is highly unlikely that anyone would come to Mr. Torre’s defense.

But one is tempted to ask where are those Italian Canadian organizations with the [often] self-declared leadership role to speak for principle and people from the community: the National Congress of Italian Canadians, the COMITES, the CIBPA, Villa Charities… the list goes on.

It does not appear that they recognize a “principle” to defend or at least question. They are not new to the game.

I lost track of L.C. But, over the years, and with more experience under my belt, I listened with empathy and acted with greater independence and effectiveness on behalf of other “clemency” cases brought to me by Portuguese, Greek, Indian, Israeli and, yes, Italian parents. Their kids “had gone astray”, paid for their deed, but were shipped to a foreign country upon exiting from Her Majesty’s hotels.

Their parents acknowledged that they had returned in a clandestine manner, but they were now hard-working and reliable. They exhibit these good “Canadian values”. Why send them back and punish their parents and families further?

They would be just a few years younger than Mr. Torre. Like him, they didn’t come from a place of “shared values”.

That does not excuse their crime. Conviction disqualifies them from Permanent Residency and Citizenship.

Somehow, this detail was put aside in the case of Conrad Black. You may recall that he relinquished his Canadian citizenship so that he could be appointed to the House of Lords in England.

No problem - until he was charged and convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice. He served 37 months in US jail.

This would normally have disqualified him from re-entering Canada. But a former Minister of Immigration (not me) granted him a visa on a year-to-year basis. Clemency is a part of the system, as they say.

Mr. Black is sufficiently rehabilitated that other citizens and entrepreneurs have offered him positions in their companies, including hosting media programs.

This is what happens when people and organizations speak on your behalf.

(Tuesday 13 September 2016)

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08tiffItalian Movies at the Toronto International Film Festival

by Francesca Facchi

Toronto – It has already been 40 years since, at the start of every September, Toronto comes under the world’s spotlight. The city hosts one of the most important and prestigious film festivals in the world, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), gathering under the shadow of the CN Tower actors, directors, journalists and, obviously, spectators, who can enjoy the premieres introduced by the protagonists themselves.

This year, during the eleven days of the festival (8-18 September), we will see several Italian films, which are also international or North American premieres.

Besides Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea), directed by Gianfranco Rosi, the festival features Acqua e zucchero: Carlo Di Palma, i colori della vita (Water and Sugar: Carlo Di Palma, the Colours of Life) directed by Fariborz Kamkari.
It is a tribute-documentary by the director, cinematographer, screenwriter Carlo Di Palma, whose talent is celebrated through outstanding excerpts from his films and interviews of luminaries he collaborates with in his career, from Ken Loach and Wim Wenders to Ettore Scola and Bernardo Bertolucci. The docufiction Mister Universo directed by Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel follows the picaresque journey of a lion tamer in search of “Mister Universo”, and it represents a chance for the directors to describe Italy’s circus world.

There are Italians even in the short film section, Marco Gentiloni, a young director who comes to the festival with Semiliberi, set in a female prison, while amongst full length-films the two dramas Indivisibili (Indivisible) and Fai bei sogni (Sweet Dreams), respectively directed by Edoardo de Angelis and Marco Bellocchio, stand out.

Both dealing with the topic of separation, the former explores it through the eyes of two teenage Siamese twins confronting the possibility, claimed by a doctor, to be separated. The latter is based on the biographical best-seller by Massimo Gramellini.
It deals with the difficulties experienced by a man who tries to face the loss of his mother, who died when he was a child.

Finally, it is worth noticing the presentation to the festival of the restored version of La battaglia di Algieri, the anticolonialist movie by Gillo Pontecorvo (1965), banished in France till 1971 and still able to offer much food for thought.

(Thursday 8 September 2016)

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Masseria, a ristorante - pizzeria like no other in Toronto

by The Honourable Joe Volpe, Publisher

TORONTO - It is a ristorante - pizzeria like no other you have seen in Toronto, or anywhere else for that matter. Masseria, at 577 King St West, combines an ambience, service and quality of food ingredients that only a food aficionado who wants to share his passion for a delectable meal would invent.

“It’s a passion!” gushes Sam Primucci, restauranteur an connoisseur of agri-products par excellence. “Eating should always be a unique experience. Sure, it is born out of necessity, but there’s an anticipation, a satisfaction and gratification associated with it - what you ingest is not only good, but good for you”.

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“It should be like courting a loved one over and over every day”, chimed in his son Domenic. “When we’d go to my grandparents’ Masseria (family homestead on the boundary of the family farm) on the outskirts of town, my grandmother always prepared a meal as if she were entertaining royalty”.

“That was true especially with the simplest of meals, like a pizza prepared on a marble counter and cooked in an open hearth before our very eyes”, added his brother Michael.

“You could never argue with the fragrance and flavour of that rich, extra virgin olive oil, the aroma of the home grown herbs, the scent of the artisanal cheeses and aged prosciutto she applied as if an artist working on a canvass.
But she always allowed for personal tastes and for flights of fancy with her cuisine.” Just like here, in Masseria.

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Like their black dough pizza, for example. It is really a “carbonized vegetable” dough, explains Sam. It gives the thin-sliced pizza the firmness that holds firm at the centre but it is porous in texture, easily digestible and light on the stomach.
Except for the colour, all of the other pizzas share those same qualities. Sam refuses to compromise on the ingredients that go into the “toppings”. He imports virtually everything, including the hand driven prosciutto slicer. “It ensures that the fragrance and taste of the meat is not altered in the least. Here, smell, taste… like home isn’t it?”

He’s right. The signature large round table centred by a large vase of fresh basil fills the one big eating area with a garden fragrance somehow completely a’ propos to the warmth that radiates from the open oven and the smiles of staff eager to satisfy every little whim of your taste buds.

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But the experience starts as you enter. Pizza doughs and ingredients feast your eyes. It is as if they plead for your favour and selection. As you make your way to the end of the counter for drinks, olives, peppers, salads cheeses to whet your appetite – all prepared with the same competitive care, your meal is ready: Ecco! 3 minutes and you will feel like I used to at my grandmother’s Masseria.

“Who said you can never go back?”, smiles Sam. “Remember the address”.

(Thursday 8 September 2016)

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03appleirlandaComedians and jokers united

by The Honourable Joe Volpe, Publisher

TORONTO - If you are a comedian, you can rise to the top of the biggest corporations in the world.

Take Tim Cook for example. He is the CEO of Apple, the multinational giant, now the target of the European Commission because it has “underpaid” (sorry I could not resist trying my hand at comedy) taxes over between 2003 and 2014 by a mind-numbing $19 Billion Canadian.

The EC, last week, ruled that Apple received an “unfair” subsidy (illegal under the rules, for those of you without a sense of humour) for its operations in Ireland, where it employs 6,000 workers. Mr. Cook denies asking for or receiving any special favours.

Even Manna from Heaven required an invocation; but this is comedy, remember.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the CEO claimed, “… in any country where we operate, Apple follows the law and we pay all of the taxes we owe.” Giggle. Giggle. An unnamed financial analyst in the same article mused that Apple spends more on accountants and lawyers in order to avoid paying taxes than it does on research and development. He says, I paraphrase, that Apple pays $ 65 CDN for every $1.31 million in profit.

What are you paying?
The European ruling claimed that Apple was paying less than 1% in taxes when the European corporate rate is 12.5%. In fact, the investigations, prompted by aggrieved competitors based in the USA, found that, towards the end of the period in question, Apple was paying only .005!

Astounding. The Irish government also denies giving Apple special treatment and will appeal the decision. Are you laughing yet?
Ireland (population 4.58 million) desperately needs jobs. Some global companies located there because as an English-speaking country, it provides convenient access to the European market- the largest economy in the world. A favoured position now potentially improved as a result of the Brexit vote.

Ireland receives approximately CDN $ 210 Million in European transfers than it pays in membership fees to the European Union. Apple competitors argue that this amounts to a potential CDN $ 34,000 subsidy, per year, for every job Apple creates in Ireland.

Are you still laughing? Apple declared revenues of $306 Billion (Canadian) in 2015, according to its press releases. The Government of Canada projected $ 290 billion in revenues projected for its 2015-2016 Budget plan.

Canada is running a deficit of approximately $30 billion per annum, and growing. Apple declared a NET profit of 22% on earnings. Resume your giggles. Governments always claim they need more revenues (taxes) in order to provide services and to stay afloat. People and corporations want the services but prefer not to pay.

The Los Angeles Times reports that US corporations, like Amazon.com, McDonald’s and Starbucks, are holding CDN $2.62 Trillion in foreign accounts in order to avoid paying taxes in the USA (current rate table: 12-39% but averaging at 12.1%). The Apple experience suggests that those corporations won’t even pay the European rate of 12.5%.

Tim Cook’s annual compensation package? Roughly CDN $ 13 million …. oh, plus the CDN $525 million in stocks that have not yet vested.

(Thursday 8 September 2016)

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03wynnebyelectionByelections, a wake up call for the Premier

by The Honourable Joe Volpe, Publisher

TORONTO - “Do we have your attention, now Madame Premier? What do you think of the [by]election results of Thursday night”.

That was the reaction of the attendant behind the counter. Having recognized me as a former practitioner of the political arts, she had mustered up the courage to say it, in the hope I might convey the message.

“We preferred to cast our lot with an Octogenarian, whose past is hardly stellar, whose Leader is even less so, rather than cast our lot with the Party, Premier and government in office today”, she added. Just think how frustrated we are. What choices do we have?

Indeed, there’s a tough lesson for those who care to see it. Voter turnout was a discouraging 28.14% of the eligible voters. A staggering 71.86% could not even be bothered to cast a ballot.

Maybe they do not think they matter in our democratic process. In the last general election, the voter turnout was a paltry 47.8%; hardly a participation rate that inspires confidence in the public’s commitment a process that builds community.

Maybe, some argue, it had something to do with the composition of the riding. They claim that since 90% of the residents are from a visible minority, they might not yet have that same commitment to participation the rest of us (who stayed home anyway) demand.

It is hardly a serious observation. Those who make it forget that the process involves CITIZENS. To become one, the “resident” has had to undergo an integration period that involves acculturation in the democratic process. Besides, they are among the most prolific users of social media, therefore targets of social media campaign strategies.

Maybe the parties are no longer capable of inspiring confidence as builders of the future. Maybe they are dealing with issues that are targeted rather than inclusive. What were the issues anyway? Whatever the answer, only 8.2% of the electorate felt comfortable enough to associate itself with the Liberal Party.

The Conservatives, who won, didn’t fare much better – their candidate, Raymond Cho, garnered 10.86% of eligible voters, while the NDP attracted the support of 7.7%.

On the lighter side, one can say “they have two years to go”, or that “they have room to grow”. The lady behind the counter would have none of it: “Governing is a year-round job”.

(Wednesday 7 September 2016)

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